Reinhardt, Django

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Reinhardt, Django

Django Reinhardt (Jean Baptiste Reinhardt), 1910–53, Belgian jazz guitarist of Romani (Gypsy) descent. Reinhardt began playing the guitar professionally at 12. He was severely burned in a fire in 1928, leaving two fingers of his left hand useless, but adapted his guitar style to the disability. Reinhardt, who had roots in France's popular dance-hall music, first encountered (1931) jazz in a Louis Armstrong recording. He immediately began to experiment with jazz playing, often jamming with violinist Stéphane Grappelli. The two worked intermittently (1934–39) with the Quintet of the Hot Club in Paris, where they both gained recognition. Reinhardt toured the United States with Duke Ellington in 1946 and spent his last years in France, touring and recording. His clear, percussive playing style, strongly influenced by his Romani background, was notable for its virtuosity and improvisation. He was the first foreign musician to exert an influence on American jazz.

See M. Gregni, Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend (2004).

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